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Displaying items by tag: Oyster

Two Irish yachts, Tír na nÓg (Robert Rendell of Howth) and Rí-Rá (Patrick and Hugh Blaney of Dun Laoghaire) were part of a twenty-one Oyster yacht fleet that crossed the start line of the Oyster World Rally at Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua, on Sunday afternoon.

The Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams, fired the cannon to the 27,000-mile, 16-month adventure that will take in some 27 destinations and explore some of the world's most spectacular cruising grounds. Oyster Yachts Chief Executive Ashley Highfield was also at the starting ceremony on Fort Charlotte, Antigua and Oyster's CCO, Paul Adamson, a former sailing instructor at Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

The fleet will meet again in Panama for their transit through the canal in mid-February.

It has been an emotional and exciting build-up to the start of the 16-month adventure. Some of the fleet arrived in Antigua in mid-December, taking part in the ARC Rally, as Afloat reported here, the traditional delivery passage to the Caribbean for Europe-based yachts. Number 565 Tír na nÓg and 675 Rí-Rá both finished in the top ten of the ARC fleet.

All the crews have spent the past few weeks building up to this day, ensuring their boats are fully ready for this experience-of-a-lifetime event. They have participated in safety training, weather briefings, technical workshops and more - all supported by the Oyster Technical and Logistics Team, who will be on hand for the whole event to support and advise the fleet.

The first stop for the Rally will be Shelter Bay, Panama, where the fleet will all come together ahead of transiting the Panama Canal.

"Logistically, this is one of the trickiest parts of this edition of the Rally, as lack of water in the lake that feeds the canal has put additional pressure on the number of recreational boats allowed to transit at one time. However, we are hopeful that we should be able to keep with our current schedule of arriving in Galapagos, our second stopover, in early March," comments Oyster World Rally Director, Allie Smith.

Published in Cruising
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Diver, sailor and coffee distributor David Lawlor is not that mad about oysters – he’ll eat them out of politeness – but he is mad about what they can do as keystone species in stabilising marine habitats.

That’s why he wants to re-introduce them to Dublin Bay as part of a community initiative which will be supported by Green Ocean Coffee, part of Lawlor’s Watermark Coffee brand.

It is two centuries since Dublin Bay had healthy populations of oysters, and his vision is to develop a broodstock which will multiply over time in sufficient numbers to form reefs.

These reefs can then provide a natural alternative to hard engineering defences against coastal erosion, and can also help to restore inshore habitats, including seagrass beds, he says.

"Lawlor is passionate about seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change"

Lawlor is passionate about seeking solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change, and describes oysters as the marine equivalent of the “canary in a mine” in measuring the health of the marine environment.

He is starting out what may be a 15 to 20-year project with a pilot, cultivating a series of “oyster gardens” in several yacht marinas at Poolbeg, Malahide and Dun Laoghaire.

A University College Dublin (UCD) PhD student, Brian Rice, is working with him on the pilot, which has all necessary permissions, and Lawlor says he hopes it will lead to a not-for-profit model if it expands.

Lawlor is funding the pilot from his Green Ocean coffee brand, which is also supporting a project to restore seabed habitats in Clew Bay, Co Mayo.

The project will be looking for volunteers to manage the oyster gardens, and interested participants should email [email protected]

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Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Loughs Agency, the regulatory body for fisheries in Northern Ireland, has announced the suspension of the Native Oyster Fishery in the Foyle area starting from 6 am on October 24th, 2023, until 6 pm on February 29th, 2024.

The decision was reached after analyzing the latest stock assessment data, direct feedback from license holders, and sampling of the catch by Loughs Agency fishery officers.

The decision to close the fishery was made to prioritise conservation as the evidence available suggests the need to ensure the continued sustainability of the oyster population. Sharon McMahon, Loughs Agency CEO, stated that the decision was not taken lightly but is essential to maintain the biomass of spawning stock and the viability of the oyster population.

The decision will have a significant impact on the native oyster fishery stakeholders who will be unable to fish oysters in Lough Foyle during the closure period. However, the regulatory body is committed to taking decisions in a science-led approach to ensure the future sustainability of the fishery.

The marine scientists at Loughs Agency have provided evidence supporting the decision to ensure an acceptable biomass of spawning stock remains in the population for next season. They have also highlighted that removing 100% of the stock above the minimum landing size is not sustainable and removing a large proportion of stock over 80mm this season could have a detrimental impact on future recruitment to the population.

Loughs Agency's remit as a regulatory body allows them to make informed management decisions in real-time, helping maintain a sustainable fishery for the future.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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The Oysters growing under the pontoons in Bangor Marina are well hidden, but they still need ongoing attention. To this end, Ulster Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help monitor the native oyster nurseries and record their development.

The native oyster has been considered extinct in Belfast Lough since 1903. However, in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

A native oyster nursery in Bangor Marina will support the precarious population in Belfast Lough and help create a natural long-term carbon store to tackle climate change.

There will be training for those interested in finding out more about the role of volunteer and how you can sign up.

The Marine Conservation Manager Heidi McIlvenny will introduce the project and talk through the role of the volunteer, as well as show how to survey the nurseries safely and record the results

The training dates are 18th and 26th August at 2 pm and you can register your interest with the Volunteer Coordinator Sheila Lyons at [email protected] or call 07703 673217.

There is more information at www.ulsterwildlife.org/native-oysters and you can read more about the project here 

Published in Aquaculture
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Hundreds of native oysters have returned to Belfast Lough as part of efforts to bring the ‘ocean superheroes’ back from the brink of extinction.

The ambitious aquaculture restoration project, officially launched on Friday (20 May) by Ulster Wildlife to mark Endangered Species Day, sees approximately 700 mature oysters suspended in cages under the pontoons of Bangor Marina.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, this creates the first native oyster (Ostrea edulis) nursery of its kind on the island of Ireland.

As sea temperatures warm over the coming months, the 24 nursery cages will generate millions of oyster larvae which will settle on the seabed, helping the native oyster population recover while also boosting biodiversity and improving water quality in the lough.

Belfast Lough once supported a prolific native oyster fishery. However, overfishing, habitat loss, disease, pollution and invasive introduced species contributed to the population becoming extinct and the fishery closing in 1903.

Since then, 100 years of surveys failed to document one living specimen, until 2020 when researchers from Bangor University and Queen’s University Belfast discovered 42 live oysters at six sites around the lough.

Heidi McIlvenny, marine conservation manager at Ulster Wildlife and who is leading the project, says: “We are still unsure how or why native oysters returned to Belfast Lough, but it indicates that the environmental conditions are right for them to establish here again. But, if they are to bounce back, they need our help.

“The biggest barrier to the recovery of the native oyster is a low number of mature reproducing oysters. The nurseries we have established at Bangor Marina are full of mature oysters that will act as larval pumps, increasing the number of oysters in the Lough and helping to restore this incredible ocean superhero for years to come.”

Boosting the lough’s fragile oyster population will also bring important benefits for other marine life, Heidi says.

“A single oyster can filter up to 200 litres of seawater, equivalent to a bathtub, per day, significantly improving water quality and reducing pollution levels. The larvae once established will also create healthy native oyster reefs in the lough, providing shelter and food for an abundance of marine wildlife, including commercially fished species, along with potential carbon storage.”

Special permissions were granted to relocate the shellfish from Loch Ryan in Scotland. They were screened for disease and cleaned on arrival before being installed in the nurseries. 

Volunteers will conduct ‘health checks’ every week to ensure the oysters are thriving in their new homes. Monthly biodiversity surveys will also track changes in marine life in and around the nurseries, which form their own unique micro-habitat.

Kevin Baird, harbour master at Bangor Marina, says: “We are delighted to be supporting the recovery of our most threatened marine species.

“Housing the oyster nurseries under the pontoons is an innovative use of the space we have available and is a great opportunity for the marina to become an outdoor classroom, where people of all ages can get hands-on with marine conservation in an urban environment.”

The oyster restoration project is funded by the DAERA Challenge Fund. Find out more at ulsterwildlife.org/native-oysters

Published in Aquaculture

In November last year, Bangor Marina in partnership with the Ulster Wildlife Trust made plans to establish the first native oyster nursery in Northern Ireland.

The earliest report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in the late 18th century and the native oyster has been considered extinct there since 1903.

But in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

Now the plans have come to fruition and Ulster Wildlife helped by Marina staff, have hung twenty-six nursery cages underneath F, G and H Pontoons.

Marina manager Kevin Baird said he and the staff are super excited about this project. Similar schemes have been established in other parts of the UK, but this is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland.

Oysters recovered in Bangor MarinaOysters recovered in Bangor Marina

An oyster nursery is a micro-habitat housing about 27 mature oysters that will reproduce and release the next generation of oyster larvae to settle out on the seabed of Bangor Bay and Belfast Lough. An individual oyster can release up to 1 million larvae per year!

Published in Irish Marinas
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Did you know that our Native oysters have been an important food source for centuries - the Romans even exported them back to Italy!

The first report of a recognised commercial oyster fishery in Belfast Lough was in 1780 and although the native oyster has been considered extinct there since 1903, in the summer of 2020, live oysters were discovered for the first time in over 100 years – evidence that the environmental conditions for establishment are right.

The charity, Ulster Wildlife Trust, is hoping to establish the first native oyster nursery in Northern Ireland in Bangor Marina on Belfast Lough to support the declining population and to help create a natural long-term carbon store to tackle climate change. So under F, G and H Pontoons, Ulster Wildlife's Heidi McIlvenny with Harbour Master Kevin Baird and his staff will deploy a native oyster nursery.

Highly prized Loch Ryan OystersHighly prized Loch Ryan Oysters

Around 26 cages will be suspended under the pontoon walkways and will be populated with highly prized Loch Ryan Oysters. The Loch Ryan Oyster Bed, one of Scotland’s largest, dates to 1701 when King William 111 granted a Royal Charter to the Wallace family.

The native or flat oyster stays fixed in one place and is a filter feeder meaning it uses its valves to pump water filtering out microscopic algae and small organic particles from the surrounding water. A single oyster can filter up to 200 litres of seawater per day, which can significantly improve water quality and clarity.

Already thriving in another Marina in Conwy Wales, over time the oysters will start releasing oyster larvae into the harbour which will be carried out to settle on the seabed, ultimately resulting in cleaner waters and better marine biodiversity.

Classified as a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework and a Feature of Conservation Importance for which Marine Conservation Zones can be designated, the oyster has a lifespan of six years.

Harbour Master Kevin Baird would like to get local schools involved after the oysters are in place. “It’s a great environmental project with many very positive benefits”. He added “There will be no disruption to marine traffic”.

Published in Belfast Lough

The Loughs Agency is now inviting interested parties to apply for a licence to fish the 2020/2021 native oyster fishery in Lough Foyle.

Applicants will be required to submit a completed application form by post only (standard delivery, not recorded delivery) due to coronavirus restrictions to:

Loughs Agency Headquarters
22 Victoria Road
Derry~Londonderry
BT47 2AB
Northern Ireland

Applicants are also asked not to send additional documents or payment, only the application.

The licence fee is £150 or €166 with fees payable on receipt of licence.

Anyone who held a licence to fish the Lough Foyle native oyster fishery last season will receive an application pack via post.

If you do not receive a pack or you did not hold a licence last season but wish to apply this year, please either download a form or contact +44 (0) 28 71 342100 (lines open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm) to receive a hard copy via post.

Interested parties must have completed applications with the Loughs Agency on or before Friday 31 July. No late applications will be accepted.

Published in Fishing

Ireland’s Formula One Grand Prix legend Eddie Jordan has long been a keen sailor - his current vessel is the well-travelled Oyster 885 Lush. He has now stepped-up his involvement with the well-known UK-based firm as a result of its current re-structuring under the guidance of his longtime sailing friend Richard Hadida.

Richard Hadida has brought Eddie Jordan onto the board as Oyster Yachts – which works closely with international designer Rob Humphreys – re-shapes itself to re-hire most of its staff of 400 at locations in Southampton and Norfolk. The firm had 20 yachts across its renowned high-end range under construction when it went into administration last month, and now the intention is to continue to develop the new Oyster 118 while also taking a fresh look at the other end of the size spectrum, where it is reckoned there is a substantial market for a “super high-quality” 42 footer

Published in Marine Trade
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A former Dun Laoghaire Harbour based Sailing School instructor will lead a new Oyster Yachts management team following the purchase of the luxury boat builder after it went under in February, according to British media reports.

YBW.com reports here, that Richard Hadida has purchased Oyster Yachts and all of its subsidiaries and has brought the owner of one–time Dun Laoghaire Harbour–based sailing school, Sailing West, Paul Adamson on board.

Adamson and his wife Audrey sailed around the world from 2012 to 2014 working professionally for ex Formula One Team Boss, Dubliner Eddie Jordan and prior to that ran the Sailing West Sailing School based at Dun Laoghaire's ferry terminal.

More recently, Adamson has been working as a 'motivational speaker', details as per his website here.

As Afloat.ie reported at the time, the British luxury yacht builder stopped production in February with the loss of some 380 employees at its UK sites at Southampton and Wroxham in Norfolk after the Dutch private equity firm, HTP Investments, announced it would no longer continue to financially support the company.

Hadida is now forming a management team, led by Oyster skipper Adamson, who captained Eddie Jordan's Oyster 885, LUSH in the Oyster World Rally in 2014

Adamson was also a regular competitor on the Dublin Bay SB20 Sportsboat circuit. 

Hadida, who regularly sails on LUSH, told Yachting Monthly he has used his own personal fortune to buy Oyster and all of its subsidiaries, including Oyster Palma and Oyster Newport in the USA.

"Every part of the business, including brokerage and chartering, I plan to bring back to life,' he noted. 'I am not looking to flip it, there is no exit planning, I am in it for the long run, it will be a lifetime business."

His first priority will be on the 26 customers whose Oysters were in build when the company closed its doors.

"We are hoping to start employing people as of tomorrow. At the moment, we have boats in every stage of build from the mould to almost complete and we need to get people on these boats and building them fast. I want to get those yard doors open and start building boats again," stressed Hadida.

Adamson, who will act as 'Chief Transformation Officer',  added that the 26 customers with Oysters in build will get exactly what they ordered.

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!